Never Over Promise On What You Can Deliver

It’s all about honest, clear communication.

Simon Patchett

It’s always tempting to tell a customer you can give them everything they’re after in order to win a contract.

More often than not this type of scenario ends pretty badly. By overpromising and under delivering you’re not only setting yourself up for the possibility of losing a customer but you’re also setting yourself up for a nasty bout of negative word of mouth.

In our industry, it’s quite common to find a client with unrealistic expectations. One of the best examples I can give is the SEO service. Often, business owners who decide to invest in their SEO expect to increase their rankings fast. That’s fair enough; if you’re making an investment, you want to see a return on that investment quickly.

However, SEO really is a slow burner. It has the potential for fantastic returns, but the fact is it does take time to work. For example, we have an SEO client who recently measured a return of £35,000 of new business, which is a fantastic result – but it took a good few months to get there. You can read the full case study here.

The point is, we have a client here who is now reaping a massive return on his investment, even though it took a while to kick in. When he originally came to us, we could have over promised and told him we could start to make him money within weeks. We would have then started to carry out the work, and then failed to deliver on what we’d promised, resulting in an unhappy client who would likely jump ship to another agency.

While I’d love to be able to sit here and say yep, we can make huge amounts of money for our clients overnight, the fact is, that’s just not true. Of course, some marketing channels are much quicker than others – PPC springs to mind, but it’s still important to be realistic with timeframes and expected outcomes. We’d rather give our client realistic expectations – then of course, we’ll do our absolute best to achieve a fantastic result as quickly as possible. That way, we can over-deliver on what we’ve promised, surpass expectations, and make the client even happier!

Managing Expectations

So how do we manage client expectations? It’s all about honest, clear communication.

Set clear goals and objectives for your work. You need to mutually agree on some targets that you will be aiming towards, which is the first step towards getting you and the client on the same page and working towards to same result. They know from the outset what you’re looking to achieve for them.

Communicate constantly. Keep the client up to date with your work throughout the project, including any setbacks. Be completely transparent with them and let them know exactly what’s going on. Trying to present your work through rose-tinted glasses won’t help with managing expectations. By making communication a priority, any pain points or frustrations your client may be feeling can be discussed and resolved before they grow into a larger problem.

Clearly define the scope of the project, in writing. We’re all human, and sometimes in meetings or during phone calls we misunderstand what someone is trying to say, or remember the conversation differently afterwards. By writing everything down and making sure you both have a written record of the project scope, you make sure that you’re both completely on the same page.

Basically, what we’re saying is be realistic in what you can offer for the price you are charging. Maybe even add a little extra into your price and factor in extra work for your client that they haven’t requested. By under promising and over delivering you’ll finish up with a happy repeat customer.